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Kiplinger: 10 Best Cities for the Next Decade

Kiplinger's 10 best cities for the next decade all had smart residents, sharp ideas, and people and institutions willing to collaborate.

Kiplinger's 10 best cities for the next decade are located across the country, but they all have three things in common: smart citizens, great ideas, and people who eagerly collaborate. Each place also has a strong university system and innovative employers. The cities range from small West Hartford, Connecticut to the nation's capital, Washington, DC. Here's what set the 10 winners apart:

10. Topeka, Kansas has maintained an unemployment rate of only 7 percent, compared to the nearly 10 percent rate nationwide. That could be because local and state governments employ nearly a quarter of Topekans. Besides its strong school system and hospitals, it also has low housing costs.

9. West Hartford, Connecticut is next door to this New England state's capital, and has recently become a small suburb to a destination for shopping, dining and entertainment. Small business is driving its economy forward.

8. Burlington, Vermont has dedicated itself to the local food movement and energy sustainability. Its City Market/Onion River Co-Op sells more than 1,000 food items that hail from the Green Mountain state. And the Intervale Center manages 350 acres of family-owned farmland to provide 10 percent of the city's food.

7. Des Moines, Iowa is aggressively campaigning to attract young people back to its city by promoting its low housing costs, short average commute times, and developing its downtown.

6. Rochester, Minnesota is home to the world renowned Mayo Clinic, but also has a vibrant biotech community. The Minnesota BioBusiness Center, a Mayo offshoot that opened in the spring of 2009, has 150,000 square feet of office space and represents a collaboration between the clinic and the local university.

5. Salt Lake City, Utah has a low cost of living, high quality of life (at least four world-class ski resorts are practically within walking distance), and low taxes and operating costs.

4. Boulder, Colorado's economy is driven by the local University of Colorado, federal research labs, and more than 6,600 small businesses and corporations.

3. Washington, DC is best known as the nation's capital, but its metro area is home to 11 of the wealthiest 25 counties in the country. The District also has a relatively low unemployment rate, and a high concentration of cultural and entertainment venues.

2. Seattle, Washington is home to major corporations including Microsoft, Amazon, and Boeing, but it is also friendly to small start-ups. The local University of Washington drives the city's entrepreneurial spirit.

1. Austin, Texas is Kiplinger's top city for business for the next decade. The savvy of its businesses both large and small is balanced by discerning cultural opportunities (its South by Southwest festival meshes indie music and films with panels on emerging technologies) and a vibrant branch of the University of Texas.

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